I’ve got a new neighbour and, for a couple of days running now, he’s been popping by for the sort of favours which new neighbours require. Will I be in later if his Sky man wants access? Could he borrow a telephone handset to check his new phone line is working? And so on. And I comply with alacrity, I’m a good neighbour, moi.
What must be confusing him a tad is that whatever time of day or night he rings the doorbell unexpectedly, I need to keep him waiting at the front door while I put some clothes on and make myself respectable.
Gentle Reader, I don’t want you to think I work naked; I don’t. But I don’t get many unexpected visitors except the postman and he’s used to seeing me in all manner of dress from London Meeting Smart, to ordinary/everyday leggings, to nightie/jimjams deeply relaxed/not bothering with proper clothes at all today and occasionally he even witnesses Officially Sick.
But my new neighbour must wonder what on earth I do for a living, deshabille all day long, and – looking at me – I’m guessing he’s not thinking I’m Belle du Jour. So what does it take then, to work at home unsupervised and alone?
- You’ve got to set your own standards, be your own boss, set your own deadlines and be accountable to yourself. That’s quite a tall order we’ve either grown used to or we are growing into.
- You’ve got to resist distractions from those who don’t really believe that working at home counts “properly” and who are inclined to use you as a convenience – hell, I even offer myself in that capacity to commuting friends and neighbours.
- You’ve got to create a comfortable working environment, without tolerations, which supports you being as productive as if you were still in your corporate cubicle. [You were productive in that cubicle, weren’t you??]
- And as overwork creeps up on you, you’ve got to know when to take a break, go to lunch, walk round the block and bring creative variety into your day.
If you are the sort who craves human company, you are going to be going to a lot more face-to-face networking and meetings than I choose. I follow all sorts of weird and wonderful entrepreneurs on Twitter and they seem to be out and about all the time, which leads me to suspect that not all entrepreneurs are desk-bound and home alone.
Which means we have many choices; we can set up our working life to suit a balance between our skills and the way we like to live our lives. This means that freelance caterers have to bite the bullet and sit down to do paperwork which is so at odds with their physical work. And personal trainers have to learn to do marketing and social media though they may be constantly on the move. And artists have to make time for a little left-brained activity too at times. It’s a challenge alright and that’s just how I like it.
I wonder what promotes the best result for each of us? A variety of different tasks we can switch between -v- long periods of focus on one project to get it done. Being able to find the help and support you need from your network, whilst feeling able to turn down requests if you are that network for others so that you can prioritise your own workload.
Some days I like to feel that I have been a giant-killer today so I can slack off a bit tomorrow. And equally I know that if I have procrastinated all day long today, I’ll have to work like fury to catch up. Serves me right.
What would be your best tip to our newly self-employed colleagues working at home for perhaps the first time? Turn on the Loose Women, break out the biscuits and put your feet up? Ahem, I don’t think so! See me after school.